From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Wed Feb 04 2009 - 11:38:06 EST
Gaddafi walks out of talks
04/02/2009 11:29 - (SA)
Addis Ababa - African leaders are locked in a dispute following Muammar
Gaddafi drive to create a "union government" for Africa.
The development has heightened divisions on the continent, forcing an
extension of a summit to resolve the spat.
The African Union elected Gaddafi to lead the bloc on Monday despite deep
reservations among many members over his call for a "United States of
But as the 53 members were meant to wind up their three-day summit, the
dispute widened as they debated a report on how to reform the continental
Gaddafi walked out of the talks without saying anything and moments later
the other leaders left at about 03:00 with an agreement to resume debate
later on Wednesday.
"He understood that he lost, that's why he left like that," one African
diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Publicly, African leaders tried to put a positive spin on it.
"He didn't walk out, he just got tired," Liberian President Ellen
"We had very important things to discuss. A very rich debate. We will take
it up again to close," Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said.
Expand AU mandate
The summit had already agreed to expand the mandate of the AU Commission and
change its name to the AU Authority, but the details of that change appear
to be the focus of the dispute.
South African President
Motlanthe said in a joint interview that proposals for strengthening the AU
would be considered only over the next three months.
"The aim is to strengthen and expand a bit on the functions and
responsibilities of the Authority," he said.
"The Executive Council tabled proposals and actually requested to be
accorded three months within which to look at the exact nitty-gritty of this
AU Authority," he said.
"There is an acceptance that the end goal of the founding fathers of the OAU
and the AU was that Africa would be united. A day will be arrived at where
there will be a single authority in charge of Africa," Motlanthe said.
He said there was recognition that the route to a single authority would be
During the summit, the tensions with Gaddafi were palpable. Ugandan
President Yoweri Museveni proposed turning the AU leadership into a troika,
which would mitigate Gaddafi's influence in a role that already has little
Gaddafi has long looked at the AU as a way to boost Africa's international
profile, but also to increase his own standing.
But leaders like Museveni are reluctant to see Gaddafi become the face of
Africa in the international arena.
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